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Are you interested in participating in our studies?

Undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to volunteer to participate on the various tasks in iLAB. We have had students from various SHRS departments as well as students studying linguistics learning about research and/or completing a thesis with Dr. Hill. Below are some answers to questions you may have about becoming involved in exciting iLAB investigations.

Students are encouraged to complete the following CITI courses if they want to get involved in the AAC and electrifying brain computer interface (BCI) technology research happening in iLAB:

  • Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)
  • Human Subjects Research – Social-Behavioral-Educational


What are the research questions?

Several active studies are happening in Dr. Hill’s lab with multiple specific aim investigating expressive communication technology and brain computer interface access. Qualitative questions are related to collecting interview and focus group responses to specific AAC-BCI components. Quantitative questions are related to testing the performance of the AAC-BCI and EEG gel and dry electrode headgear using language sampling and performance measurement. You’ll have the opportunity to learn to use language activity monitoring (LAM) logfile data.

Can you briefly describe the projects?

An NIH STTR Phase II involves the development of an AAC-BCI system. The lab is investigating user satisfaction and feedback on the design and features of the user interface and control interface. Another major question of the NIH project involves gathering user satisfaction and feedback on the design and features of training and training resources, and comparing responses among professionals, individuals with disabilities and support persons. Finally, we will be comparing the performance between EEG gel and dry electrode headgear as peripherals to an AAC-BCI system.

The NIDILRR project includes testing the performance of a dry electrode head set and a clinical trial that includes evaluating individuals for a speech generating device and the AAC-BCI device. Participants are being monitored in their homes at the completion of the evaluation. The study is monitoring treatment and supports using either expressive communication technology.

On going analysis of language sample data from AAC speakers involves transcription and linguistic analysis for AACBank.

How are students involved?

Students would be informed of all the project tasks being conduct in the AAC-BCI iLAB along with being informed of the activity at and sharing of results with the University of Michigan and industrial partner. However, students will be assigned specific tasks to complete such as contributing to the various inter-rater and inter-judge reliability testing for interview, focus group and survey data, training resource development, language transcription, etc.

Will students be involved in data collection?

Some data have been collected and are in the reliability testing phase. However, other tasks still on in the development stages for data collection. The clinical trial data collection is ongoing. Yes, students will be involved with the data. Once AAC-BCI headgear testing has resumed, students are welcome to be involved in in person testing and having an opportunity to use the AAC-BCI with both the gel and dry electrode headgear.

What about student safety?

Currently, students may be involved in the tele-practice data collection. However, by spring we hope to resume lab testing procedures with participants.We will follow approved IRB procedures for safety using PPE. Students will be expected to adhere to social distancing practices.

What about students interested in a Master’s thesis?

Dr. Hill is happy to talk with students interested in completing a Master’s thesis related to AAC and/or AAC-BCI research questions. Interested students should contact Dr. Hill as soon as possible at

What about student volunteers and hourly student workers? 

The lab is looking for up to 3 student volunteers to gain research experience and skills that will generalize to a variety of future research related to communication disorders and to clinical practice that students may pursue. Depending on a student’s interest, a student will have opportunities to learn both quantitative and qualitative research procedures along with using tools such as LAM data logging, the AAC Performance Report Tool (PeRT), Qualtric, NVivo, AAC communication software (Unity, Empower, Essence and more) and BCI 2000 software.

Students are expected to be able to put in 3-5 hours a week of effort. However, some weeks may have no hours. Hours are flexible based on course deadlines for students.

Dr. Hill expects to be able to budget for 1 or 2 hourly students in January 2021.Hourly student work is based on student commitment to the projects. Work will continue through the summer.

What do I do if I’m interested?

Email Dr. Hill at or Mike O’Leary, M.S., CCC-SLP and PhD student at